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Book Twitter comes to life

“Asking a writer how they’ve fared during the pandemic is a bit like asking a cat,” Seth Meyers told a panel of 600 literary luminaries on Tuesday night. “‘It was weird! I just sat around, never went out.'”

The scene was the meat of Book Twitter: Poets & Writers, the non-profit literary organization, hosted a gala at Chelsea’s Pier Sixty with what Mr Meyers called “a verse from poets and a coffee stain from writers”.

Despite the organization’s name, most of those in attendance weren’t poets or writers, but rather publishers, editors, agents, and nonprofit folks eager to socialize. “I got dressed and my son said, ‘You look weird!'” said Zibby Owens, editor of Zibby Books. “He’s seven.”

The small talk covered the usual topics: union status after quarantine (“You’re still married, that’s good,” joked one nonprofit worker), the quirks of returning to the office (“All my snacks expired at 2am years ago,” said Jenny Jackson, an editor at Knopf) and cats (“I left pumpkin at home,” said Maxine Paetro, a writer).

Dinner hosts included Marlon James, Leslie Jamison, Major Jackson, Jennifer Egan and Cathy Park Hong. Author Cleyvis Natera, whose debut novel Neruda on the Park is due out in May, was blown away by the star power. “There are so many people I admired religiously,” she said. “I was like, ‘Oh, I’m going to say hello to everyone!’ But it’s just nice to sit back and take it in.”

Ms. Natera was the guest of Tayari Jones, the award-winning author of An American Marriage, whom she met through a PEN America fellowship. “This gala has always been for writers,” said Ms. Jones.

Some were keen to talk about Hollywood, although no one spoke about what happened at the Oscars. Delia Owens gushed about the film adaptation of her book, Where the Crawdads Sing, which she showed last night, and Jofie Ferrari-Adler, editor of Avid Reader Press, joked about his portrayal in an upcoming TV adaptation of Three Frau. “

The night honored Sonia Sanchez, Viet Thanh Nguyen, James Patterson and Sally Kim, although only two of them were in attendance. The family of Ms Sanchez, 87, “urged her to stay home rather than party maskless with 600 friends,” Mr Meyers said.

And Mr Patterson tested positive for Covid and accepted his award through pre-recorded video. He was introduced by Dolly Parton, his co-writer of Run, Rose, Run. “I think you win, huh, the Writers for Writers Award?” Ms Parton said via video. “How perfect is that? Every writer loves you.”

The gala had the atmosphere of a college reunion with old friends eager to meet up. Between courses of pickled pumpkin salad and fried chicken, patrons jumped from their seats to mingle with the patrons. They continued chatting after dinner and lingered at the dessert stations five hours after the doors opened.

But when it was time to say goodbye around 10:30pm, there were orchids and free books to collect. “Oh god, tote bags,” murmured a bespectacled partygoer gleefully, making his way to the first of many gift tables this season.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/01/style/book-twitter-comes-to-life.html Book Twitter comes to life

Luke Plunkett

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